Get The Facts: Difference Between Foster Care and Adoption - Child Abuse Prevention, Treatment & Welfare Services | Children's Bureau



Get The Facts: Difference Between Foster Care and Adoption

Each year in the United States alone, 250,000 children are left without stable homes and are entered into the foster care system. From the foster care system, many of these children are then adopted and permanently given a loving and caring home. Foster care agencies, as well as foster care adoption, help to change the lives of children every day, which is why these two systems are such a vital part of the community. With that said, we’ve put together a list of facts to help better explain the differences between foster care and adoption.

Family Foster Care

Becoming a foster parent is one of the most selfless things you can do to help children in their community. Although foster parents are not a permanent family for the children, they play a critical role in the lives of the children they foster by serving as not only a caregiver, but as a resource for them to learn from. With the help of foster parents, children are able to be nurtured so they can have the best chance of developing the way any other child does. Below, we’ve explained how foster care differs from adoption:

  • A child is placed into foster care when a welfare worker confirms that a child has been living in an abusive or neglectful environment or their primary caregivers are seen as unable to care for them due to an illness, death, or incarceration. Once this is confirmed, a child is either temporarily or permanently removed from their living situation and placed into foster care.
  • If someone in a child’s immediate environment, such as a relative or teacher does not decide to become their primary caregiver, a child is then made a ward of the state, or court until they reach the age of 18.
  • A government or social service agency is then put in charge of deciding whether the child is placed into an institution, group home, or private home.
  • A child who is placed into a private home is given a foster parent who has the responsibility of temporarily caring for the child.
  • Foster parents are given monthly stipends by the government to cover the expenses of raising the child placed in their care.

Deciding to adopt is a life changing event for both children and parents. Every child deserves to grow up in a home with parent who can love them, teach them and be there for them as they mature. Taking on responsibility as a child’s parent is a tremendous commitment accompanied by invaluable rewards, and with so many children seeking a permanent home, there is a need for people who are passionate about becoming parents through adoption. Below we’ve listed out the ways that adoption is different than foster care:

  • Adoption occurs when a person is given legal and permanent custody of a child and made their primary caregiver. As their primary caregiver, adoptive parents take on all rights and responsibilities of raising the child.
  • Adoptions can occur between family members, friends, or strangers, and through public adoption agencies and adoption facilitators or privately.
  • Both international and domestic adoptions are common.
  • Adoptions can either be open, with the birth parents maintaining communication with the adopted child or closed, with no degree of communication.

To learn more about how you can change a child’s life by becoming a foster parent or adopting a child, visit our informational page on Family Foster Care and Adoption.

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